President Barack Obama delivered earnest remarks regarding the growing tensions in Syria in the wake of chemical weapons attacks against civilians Tuesday night (September 10). From the White House, the president urged both Congress and the nation to rally behind his cause to take military action against the country while also promising a diplomatic opportunity for peace.
President Obama’s speech from the East Room was impassioned and direct, mincing no words in speaking to the actions of Syria’s leader, Bashar al-Assad, and the Syrian government’s alleged August 21 gas attack. Over 1, 429 people were killed, including 426 children, with countless others suffering injuries. Although civil war has ravaged the country the past two years, the United States has been hands off. The president spoke firmly as to why the direction has changed.
From the president’s Tuesday speech:
I have resisted calls for military action, because we cannot resolve someone else’s civil war through force, particularly after a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The situation profoundly changed, though, on August 21st, when Assad’s government gassed to death over a thousand people, including hundreds of children.
And that is why, after careful deliberation, I determined that it is in the national security interests of the United States to respond to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons through a targeted military strike.
Critics from both the Right and Left have decried the president’s actions, including former Republican senator Rick Santorum, who said to CNN that the United States should not use force for what is, in his words, a “humanitarian situation.”
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat from Hawaii, thinks attacking Syria will spur terrorist factions to band together and will weaken the domestic efforts to calm activity in the war-torn region.
On Twitter, reactions were plentiful and as deeply divided. User @KeepLiving_ tweeted, “I feel like if after tonight you’re still undecided, then you’re probably a nay” while media personality @MrDaveyD added, “Dear @BarackObama I’ll watch the Syrian gas video as u suggested..I ask that u go home & watch @JeremyScahill ‘s @DirtyWars #syria #drones.”
Russia has stepped in and asked Syria to hand over their chemical weapons stockpile in an effort to stave off an American strike. The option has been considered by Obama, but with prickly relations regarding the Edward Snowden matter, there has been a requisite amount of caution.
Watch the full speech in the video clip below.